Shame of menstruation must be replaced with support for improved menstrual hygiene, says U.N. Human Rights Council

Date: 28th September 2018

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WSSCC welcomes resolution promoting respect for the human rights of women and girls and their greater participation in society

Geneva, 28 September 2018: A Human Rights Council resolution urging countries to take decisive action to ensure women and girls have universal access to information, products and facilities needed for improved menstrual hygiene has been warmly welcomed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

The resolution expresses great concern that the lack of access to adequate water and sanitation services, including for menstrual hygiene management – in schools, workplaces, health centres, and public facilities and buildings –negatively affects gender equality and women’s and girls’ enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to education, health, safe and healthy working conditions, and to participate in public affairs.

The resolution encourages states to address the widespread stigma and shame surrounding menstruation and menstrual hygiene by ensuring women and girls have access to factual information, universal access to hygienic products and gender-sensitive facilities, including disposal options for menstrual products. WSSCC welcomes the adoption of this new resolution that makes menstruation explicit and provides guidance on actions to be taken to address this issue.

“The updated wording on MHM is a great step towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal target 6.2,” said Virginia Kamowa, WSSCC Technical Expert on Menstrual Hygiene Management. “We look forward to working collaboratively with Member States in the coming months at the global and national level”, she said.

On September 17, WSSCC convened a side event at the 39th Human Rights Council on the theme: Realizing the Human Rights to water and sanitation, from menstruation to people on the move. The event provided an opportunity to inform the deliberations of the Human Rights Council and advocate for women’s and girls’ rights to water and sanitation, especially during menstruation. Hosted by the Permanent Missions of Germany, Niger and Spain, the event brought together 19 Permanent Missions present in Geneva.

Resolution A/HRC/39/L.11 was passed on 27 September at the 39th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in a vote of 44-to-1, with two abstentions.

Link to Resolution

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